In this series on author blogging, we’ve already discussed how important it is to have a linking strategy, opportunities to get lots of kinds of organic traffic to your blog or website, and what I like to call the holy trinity of blog traffic.
Despite all this, many authors are still missing one essential truth: if you want people to visit your blog—engage with you and your ideas, subscribe, sign up for something and perhaps someday to actually trust you enough to buy something you have to offer—then you have to market your blog.
For most of us, it won’t be enough to simply write great blog articles, to fill up our archives with terrific content. The voice crying in the wilderness may be screeching or it may be beautiful. The point is in the wilderness, there’s no one listening.
And the fact is that once you understand exactly what this “marketing” thing is about, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it.
Because you enjoy the topic you’re writing about on your blog, or you wouldn’t be doing it. Marketing your blog just means taking that conversation to other readers, different audiences, in more places.
That sounds like more of a good thing to me! So, here are the top 7 strategies for marketing your author blog:
There’s a good reason why commenting on other people’s blogs is often listed first when talking about how to start getting traffic to your own site. Comments are in your voice, express your views, and allow you to introduce yourself to new audiences and create connections with bloggers and other readers directly.
Look for blogs that already have the readers you’re trying to attract, since those blogs have succeeded at what you’re trying to do. Also, look for other bloggers who are about at the same point in their growth as you are. These peers will grow along with you, creating a great marketing network.
Make substantive comments that really advance the discussion. It’s fine to disagree with the blogger, as long as you have a rational point of view, an openness to discussion, and a respect for other people’s viewpoints.
Keep doing this and you’ll soon get on the blogger’s “radar”, opening up lots of other opportunities. And you’ll be surprised at how these little links in the comments can turn into rivulets of traffic back to your own blog.
Group discussion sites keep evolving online, and our marketing should evolve along with them. Why? Because we want to be where the conversations about our topic of interest are taking place, where people are gathering specifically when thinking about this topic.
Forums are still active online, and making expert comments there that help other posters can enhance your reputation. You also have a marketing opportunity in the signatures forum software allows you to create, so don’t forget to link back to your blog in your signature.
But now there are also lots of great discussions happening in social media. Active groups with rich social media connections are available on LinkedIn, Goodreads, Google+, and other venues. Locating the right groups for you and contributing valuable content will attract readers who want to see what else you have to say on the subject.
Although article marketing isn’t as popular as it once was, it’s still a legitimate, free way to get links and traffic for your blog by submitting posts to article sites like ezinearticles.com.
One great way to utilize article marketing is by taking long blog articles and splitting them up into shorter posts, since the articles that seem to work best on article sites are around 250-350 words. This also gives you a chance to create more headlines on the topic of your article, and headlines are the most important part of these kinds of articles.
But also consider contributing your articles to sites that aggregate content in your field, or which rely on expert authors for the bulk of their content. These kinds of sites often have high readership and can direct lots of traffic your way.
Speaking and Teaching
Even though your blog is an online asset, don’t neglect the outstanding opportunities to build your author platform, including your blog traffic, through speaking and other live events.
Because these events are usually sponsored by a larger organization, you’ll get prestige and credibility from your association with the event. You’ll also need to find a way to connect people who attend the event with your blog. You might want to have business cards or handouts with a QR code that links to your blog, or offer a freebie that people have to go to your blog to collect.
Whole books and courses have been written about guest posting, because it’s such a powerful tool in helping to grow a blog, an author platform, a reputation, and a persona.
Many blogs have submission guidelines for guest authors, and most bloggers are happy to consider articles from legitimate authors within their field.
Obviously, if you’ve created a connection or established a relationship with the blogger beforehand, it’s going to be much easier to get your article considered for publication.
When you blog as a guest on someone else’s site, they are “handing you the microphone” along with the responsibility that comes along with it. Make sure you’re very familiar with the content on the blog and the kinds of questions readers ask in the comments. And make sure you hang around to answer questions, and promote the post through your own network. That will make it much more likely you’ll be invited back.
Many authors associate blog tours with the launch of a book. It’s a great launch strategy, and I consider it a basic marketing tool, whether it’s connected to a new book or not. Maybe you’re just launching a new review service on your blog, or a new PDF you’ve put together.
A blog tour will give you the opportunity, like guest posting, to meet the readers of other blogs. But in the case of a tour, you’ll travel from one blog to another in quick succession over the period of a week to a month, depending on your pace and stamina.
You’ll want to concentrate on why your new offering should be interesting to readers at these various sites. You can create excitement with contests, giveaways, and special offers to readers at the tour stops. And take a word of advice: interviews deliver great content but take a lot less time than writing lots and lots of articles.
This is probably the most overlooked form of blog marketing, simply because blog carnivals are not as popular as they were in the early days of blogging. If you can find a blog carnival with good circulation in your field, by all means, start submitting your best articles. Set a reminder for yourself so you don’t miss the deadlines.
Blog carnivals collect articles submitted by bloggers in a specific field, then publish links to all the articles. Sometimes bloggers take turns hosting the carnival, and sometimes the carnival is run by a single blog, like our own Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies.
Either way, these links contribute to your overall linking strategy giving your blog a bit of authority as well as traffic from people who want to explore your content. It’s all good.
There are bloggers who have grown incredible sites using just one or two of these strategies. Over the course of the last few years, I’ve tried all of them at one time or another, and I can tell you from experience, they all work.
Which strategies will work for you? Finding out will be a fun and exciting journey. Some will appeal more than others, and that’s fine. Diversifying your efforts ensures that you’re more likely to find things that work and that you enjoy.
Great content, effectively presented, is the foundation of everything that happens on your blog. But when you find a way to market your blog that’s fun for you, and that attracts readers too, you can really say you’ve “won” at blog marketing.
Joel Friedlander is a self-published author, an award-winning book designer, and an accomplished blogger. He's the founder of the Self-Publishing Roadmap online training course, and a frequent speaker at industry events, where he talks to writers about how the new tools of publishing can help them reach and inspire their readers.